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How to greet your ancestors

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Blog entry by BlueHatMan posted 1227 days ago 2988 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Mimy—that’s short for Manavihare Flaindratovo— and I did the cabinetry/furniture program together at Laney College here in Oakland. Mimy went on to work for Berkeley Mills, a preeminent furniture and cabinetry company in California, and I ended up for a time at Tharp-Hamilton. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum, Mimy and I. My kids are grown, fledged, deep into graduate school and law school and film industry careers. Mimy’s son is learning to talk. When talk he does, it will be a combination of English, French, and Malagasy, the language of Madagascar from whence Mimy hails. He came to Boston to study music at the Berklee College of Music, speaking only French and Malagasy. That wasn’t that long ago. Today he speaks the perfectly inflected colloquial American English of a thirty-something musician/woodworker. Mimy is one amazing dude.

His wife comes from Portland and as their boy got older and Oakland got a little nastier around where they were living, they decided to move north. So I made Mimy a cajon to take away with him. It’s a box drum. The one I built is based on the flamenco style with Peruvian sizing. In Cuba it is built with whatever is at hand, and is often played to accompany songs sung for ancestors, the dearly departed. There’s a marvelous range of sound from throaty near the center to tinny at the edge, all of it adjustable depending on the slap used. There’s no way Mimy can’t be homesick from time to time, so I hope he gets through to his ancestors with the cajon and finds a little peace when he needs it.

I used 1/2” Baltic birch falloff from a earlier project, and a piece of 1/4” mahogany veneer for the front and back. Wrong, as it turned out. Too thick. The “skin” on the front needs to be just that. So I cut off the front and replaced it with a piece of 1/8” falloff. In this case it was falloff from Berkeley Mills, so nice stuff.

Here’s Mimy taking his cajon for a test drive. Why I turned the camera on its side I don’t know. It will never happen again. I can’t find a way to turn it, like a photo. So Mimy’s on his side. But you get the idea.

-- BlueHatMan, N. California, http://bluehatman.com/



8 comments so far

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4806 posts in 1773 days


#1 posted 1227 days ago

It’s a BEAUTIFUL piece, but … I’d be being untrue to who I am if I didn’t ALSO say that … you write beautifully—rather a lost art, these days.

Cheers !

-- -- Neil

View BlueHatMan's profile

BlueHatMan

25 posts in 1228 days


#2 posted 1227 days ago

An interesting problem, that. When I could have taken the cabinetry course in my early twenties that would probably have lead to the Krenov experience at College of the Redwoods back when that program was first tuning up, I was too deeply committed to the idea of life as writer. This was how I defined myself. The life of the creative mind at the expense of the hands. What an idiot! I could have had both and squeezed them together into a new creature. Ah well, water under the bridge…

-- BlueHatMan, N. California, http://bluehatman.com/

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2759 days


#3 posted 1226 days ago

first – Mimi sounds like an extraordinary person
the drum – I can’t wait to hear it being played. What a wonderful gift.

Posting video.
Using photobucket, click on the “share” button for the video
Select “Get Link Code” in the options
Copy the “Flash for Website & Blogs” code
Paste here and then click “preview” to make sure it worked.
Oh .. and cross your fingers :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View BlueHatMan's profile

BlueHatMan

25 posts in 1228 days


#4 posted 1226 days ago

Thanks, MsDebbieP.

-- BlueHatMan, N. California, http://bluehatman.com/

View mimy's profile

mimy

1 post in 1225 days


#5 posted 1225 days ago

This Cajon has been my best arsenal in my percussion collection. It have been in many recording studios already. There is something about this Cajon, for some reason my hand feels fusing with the Cajon once I am playing it, it does become me, and I become the Cajon. This may sounds wierd but, as a percussionist those connections with the drums exist and they are not easy to find. Well, I guess the video proves it.

View BlueHatMan's profile

BlueHatMan

25 posts in 1228 days


#6 posted 1225 days ago

Mimy, That sounds totally cool. And I am happy to participate in my own little way.

-- BlueHatMan, N. California, http://bluehatman.com/

View Jack_T's profile

Jack_T

621 posts in 1630 days


#7 posted 1225 days ago

It is simply amazing how a simple looking box can make such beautiful music with a man sitting on it.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View NBeener's profile

NBeener

4806 posts in 1773 days


#8 posted 1225 days ago

Oooh.

I MISSED the video, first time around !

Cool !!!

One of the many wonderful side-benefits to being a fan of the Grateful Dead, and having attended many of their shows—aside from marveling at the percussion of Mickey Hart and Billy Kreutzmann—was spending hours in the parking lot of the venue, listening to really talented amateurs … in big drum circles … just beating it out.

Mimy: nice job ! Play it in good health !

-- -- Neil

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